Monday, November 02, 2009
Today the Westboro Baptist Church folks came to protest outside of Marquette High School. Marquette is not far from where I live, and plenty of students from church attend there.
At first, WBC didn't register with me. Then someone let me know some of their infamous activities: "God Hates Fags" signs and protesting at soldiers funerals.
Oh ya, that rings a bell.
I'm not really going to get into how insane these folks are. Do a google search and see for yourself, I don't even want to link their site here. Actually, I didn't even see the WBC folks, there were on the other side of a very, very busy intersection.
What I did see at Marquette this morning were over 200 students who had gathered for a "silent protest" around the flagpole. The police did an excellent job of designating spots for different groups of protestors, and the school administrators should be commended for their support of the students' well organized and well attended counter-demonstration.
I was talking with my buddy Adam about this whole thing, and these people are so sensational (dictionary.com: producing or designed to produce a startling effect, strong reaction, intense interest, etc.) their whole bit is demanding attention. The funny thing is if news crews weren't there (like they were today) and counter-protesters weren't also present, and people didn't blog about it (oops) then these seriously warped people would go away. They continue to exist because we give them the response they are trying to illicit.
Truthfully, in my heart, I'm trying to figure out how much of my attending was motivated by the possibility of a show. Hopefully not. I had images of 1960's riots in my mind. However today was not a frenzied melee: no riot gear, no tear gas, no fire hoses.
Westboro Baptist hate was not being reciprocated with hate. Yes, there was still a reaction, these people were still getting attention. But I saw a group of students organize/mobilize quickly (largely through facebook) and behave with sophistication, restraint, and sincerity.
It was good to see that so many students cared enough to show up and demonstrate their opposition of Westboro's values in our community. Now the trick will be to carry the same attitude of unity inside the school.